Tuesday, February 6, 2018

My Rockwell

DW calls it my version of a Norman Rockwell painting.

It's how the young woman was captured. Walking with purpose, preoccupied. Burdened but not overly encumbered. The oversized, gold purse, hanging off one arm without a care: the oversized, pink duffel bag, too large to be a gym bag, filled but not stuffed, slung over the shoulder.

The reddish-brown hair, tied up in an elaborate bun, so as to not get in her face and, perhaps, distract her from reading the display on her white smartphone. White background, so most likely an article. Clearly, not a photo. The device rests gingerly held in her hand, could easily be knocked free, though she carries it with confidence.

An experienced New Yorker, walking the empty platform of the 23rd Street Station, in Manhattan's Chelsea district. Two blocks west of the Flatiron Building and along 7th Avenue.

Her black coat, open, reveals a black skirt cut above the knee, but the coat itself drops lower. Her multi-coloured scarf is as subdued as the colours of the tiled platform and wall. Gold sandals: one, in mid-step, shows that the heel is strapless, comes away from the foot with each stride. She'll kick these off, carelessly, when she reaches home.

She's gone, in a second, never knowing that a camera was trained on her as she walked past the elaborate station sign.

It's a simple shot, one that I almost didn't take. I had only had my camera for two months, was still learning its capabilities. I was adjusting the ISO, trying to get it at the best level for a hand-held shot, practicing against a deserted platform, six track widths away. At ISO 1100, I could shoot at 1/125 of a second with the aperture all the way open, at f/2.8. My 24-70mm lens was at maximum magnification.

The train on my side was fast-approaching, so I knew I had to take my final shots now, before my view would be blocked and I would have to board the train. As I focused, I saw a person approaching from the right-hand side. I was going to wait until she passed by, but in a second I realized that she had to be in the shot to make it interesting. As she approached the centre of my frame, I shot.

DW calls it my version of a Norman Rockwell painting. It certainly captures a moment in time. A young woman, either oblivious to what's happening around her or without a care, caught up in her own affairs, on the screen in her hand, as she makes her way through the city.

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